HOUSTON -- With a war in Iraq and fighting on the rise in Afghanistan, the struggle to bring in new U.S. Army recruits is heating up again.
And Irving Gonzales, 18, got caught up in it all.
As his family’s oldest male, he feels he has to do whatever it takes to help out his single mom. For him, that means working long hours at his after-school job.
“My mom was left struggling. I would give her more than half my paycheck,” Gonzales said.
That’s why the Aldine High School senior started thinking about the Army – and the tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses that can come with enlistment.
“They were offering me school, they were offering me bonuses,” he said.
So Gonzales signed up – but only to “pre-enlist” in the Delayed Entry Program. DEP allows kids to try out the military without a binding commitment.
But the 11 News Defenders have found there is a problem: Army recruiters aren’t sticking to the program and are bullying and even lying to potential recruits and their families to keep them from dropping out.
After he had a change of heart, Gonzalez became one such victim.
“I’d rather just stay here, go to college,” he said he told his recruiter.
The reaction: Gonzalez said a recruiter told him if he did drop out, they would send him to jail.
Scared, Gonzales called Sgt. Glenn Marquette, a supervisor at the Greenspoint Recruiting Station.
Marquette told Gonzales there was no way out.
“You signed a binding contract,” he said.
But that wasn’t true.
Army recruiting regulations say delayed entry members can leave any time. They specifically mention “under no circumstances will any (recruiter) threaten, coerce, manipulate, or intimidate (future soldiers), nor may they obstruct separation requests.”
Further, they state: “At no time will any (recruiter) tell a (Delayed Entry Program) member he or she must go in the Army or he or she will go to jail.”
But when Gonzales asked Marquette what would happen if he just didn’t show up for service, a phone recording captured this reply:
“Then guess what?” said Marquette. “You’re AWOL. Absent without leave. You want to go to school? You will not get no loans, because all college loans are federal and government loans. So you’ll be black barred from that. As soon as you get pulled over for a speeding ticket, they’re gonna see you’re a deserter, they’re going to apprehend you, take you to jail.”
Marquette continued: “So guess what? All that lovey-dovey 'I wanna go to college' and all that? Guess what? You just threw it out the window, because you just screwed your life.”
Eric Martinez, 17, is another young recruit who changed his mind.
“They make it seem there’s no way out,” his mother said.
Martinez said the nearby National Cemetery constantly reminds him – and his mother – of the risks and horrors of war.
“She tells me about the stories that happen in Iraq. Some people kill themselves or get shot,” Martinez said.
But when Martinez told that to the recruiter the Army assigned to him, he said he too was threatened.
Then his mother decided to intervene. But when she spoke to the Greenspoint Recruiting Station, they told her, too, that Martinez would be AWOL and go to jail if he didn’t show up for service.
This isn’t the first time the 11 News Defenders have found these sorts of problems -- and at the VERY SAME recruiting station location.
Three years ago in May of 2005, we found that another recruiter from that station, a Sgt. Thomas Kelt, had left this phone message to a high school student. This time the issue was simply keeping an appointment to talk:
“By federal law you got an appointment with me at two this afternoon at Greenspoint Mall,” Kelt told him. “OK? You fail to appear and we’ll have a warrant, OK? So give me a call back.”
Our investigation into that call led to the Army announcing a national stand-down so all of its recruiters could re-examine their methods and regulations.
But just two months later, 11 News found that instead of punishing Sgt. Kelt, the Army had promoted him to the role of station commander at a neighboring recruiting station. That meant he would supervise and train other recruiters on how to do the job.
(And today? the Army confirms Sgt. Kelt still holds that supervisory position, but has since been transferred out of Texas.)
So we caught up with Sgt. Marquette to ask about these latest incidents.
11 News: “I just want to know why you’re telling young recruits they’ll go to jail if they want out of the Delayed Entry Program.”
Marquette: “What are you talking about?”
11 News: “We’d just like to know why you’re telling them that.”
Marquette: “I’m on vacation right now. I really don’t want to be bothered!”
Congressman Ted Poe believes there is an ongoing problem with recruiters.
“We don’t want the government, military, the Army, deceiving American citizens,” Poe said.
Poe speaks from the position of a veteran himself who recently visited Iraq with the Army.
Ex-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan exposed Fox News as a propaganda tool for the White House on Chris Mathews Hardball.
Fox in the White House: It is one of those things you kind of assume to be true all along... and yet are shocked when hard confirmation actually comes. Our fourth story tonight, from the former White House press secretary himself, word that the Bush White House routinely sent--and as far as we know, still sends-- literal talking points to Fox News for its primetime propagandists, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and others... to spout, as if ventriloquist dummies, as if they had thought of it themselves, as if they had come to those opinions independently, as if there had been a process either fair... or balanced.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
On July 9, 2008, 69 members of the U.S. Senate voted to abolish the 4th amendment and protect the President of the United States and his friends from illegal activities perpetrated upon the people of the United States in direct violation of the United States Constitution.
28 Senators voted NO. This is what some of them had to say about HR 6304.
The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of persons within the United States incident to the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the "terrorist surveillance program", the NSA is authorized by executive order to monitor, without warrants, phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation's major telecommunication companies' major interconnect locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate "private network" traffic. Shortly before Congress passed a new law in August of 2007 that legalized warrantless surveillance, the Protect America Act of 2007, critics stated that such "domestic" intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,. The Bush administration maintains that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather "foreign intelligence" integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed the existence of the program, first reported in a December 16, 2005 article in The New York Times. The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon Papers-style court injunction to block its publication. Gonzales stated that the program authorizes warrantless intercepts where the government "has a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda, or a member of an organization affiliated with al Qaeda, or working in support of al Qaeda." and that one party to the conversation is "outside of the United States". The revelation raised immediate concern among elected officials, civil right activists, legal scholars and the public at large about the legality and constitutionality of the program and the potential for abuse. Since then, the controversy has expanded to include the press's role in exposing a classified program, the role and responsibility of Congress in its executive oversight function and the scope and extent of Presidential powers under Article II of the Constitution.
If the NSA under the authority of the President even suspects that you(American citizen) has any association with any person who may have any association with any person who may be considered a national security threat, then you can(will) be subject to a FISA warrant to surveillance via the telecommuniction companies(phone internet,text)